This feels like the start of a comedy skit in which they keep changing their name to make it progressively more distinct and absurd, only to find each time that there’s already another musical act using that name.
“Lady A”? A black blues singer from Seattle. “Lady Confederacy”? An all-female death-metal band from Nashville. “Lady War Of Northern Aggression”? A middle-aged dude who produces chillwave in his basement in New Mexico.
Just plain “Lady”? A lounge act featuring two sisters from Topeka.
They should have taken my advice yesterday and renamed themselves “Lady Antifa,” which would have been maximum woke. Although there’s probably an EDM act somewhere called that.
Think about what an unholy, almost impossible PR fiasco this has turned out to be. No one really cared that they called themselves Lady Antebellum; the word “antebellum” is a weighty choice for a southern band but they’ve explained repeatedly that it has nothing to do with sympathy for the Confederacy. No one thinks they’re white supremacists or anything. But they wanted to signal their virtue at a moment of high solidarity across races against racism so they declared yesterday that henceforth they’d drop the “Antebellum” and be known by their fans’ nickname for them, “Lady A.” It was a PR move.
Look what’s become of it. It would have been bad but not terrible if there turned out to be another artist called “Lady A.” It would have been terrible but not hoo-boy-awful if that artist happened to be black. It would have been hoo-boy-awful but not an apocalyptic disaster if that black artist objected but recognized their good intentions. What they ended up with here, against all odds, was the apocalyptic disaster scenario: Appropriating the name of a black artist who’s now accusing them … of white privilege.
They should apologize immediately, drop “Lady A,” and adopt my new preferred name for them, Lady Plantation Nostalgia.
[Anita] White tells Rolling Stone she’s frustrated that Lady Antebellum hadn’t gone to her before making a decision, pointing out the irony in changing a name in support of racial equality while simultaneously taking another one from a black performer. “This is my life. Lady A is my brand, I’ve used it for over 20 years, and I’m proud of what I’ve done,” she says, her voice breaking. “This is too much right now. They’re using the name because of a Black Lives Matter incident that, for them, is just a moment in time. If it mattered, it would have mattered to them before. It shouldn’t have taken George Floyd to die for them to realize that their name had a slave reference to it.
“It’s an opportunity for them to pretend they’re not racist or pretend this means something to them,” she adds. “If it did, they would’ve done some research. And I’m not happy about that. You found me on Spotify easily — why couldn’t they?”…
“I don’t know if [the new Lady A] are going to give me a cease-and-desist. I don’t know how they’d react. But I’m not about to stop using my name,” White says. “For them to not even reach out is pure privilege. I’m not going to lay down and let this happen to me. But now the burden of proof is on me to prove that my name is in fact mine, and I don’t even know how much I’ll have to spend to keep it.”
White had been working on a song lately about George Floyd’s death, only to have that interrupted by news of a famous white band stealing her name.
No exaggeration: One of the worst PR fiascos I’ve ever seen. I don’t know how you could invent something worse unless “Lady A” turned out be a famous Klansman or something. All that’s left now is for White to write a song called “Lady Antebellum Sucks and Is Racist” and have it go to number one.
Maybe it’ll even become a sort of anthem for the protests.
Rolling Stone’s article goes through some rigmarole about trademark law and who might sue whom or whatever, but it would be tantamount to career suicide for Lady Antebellum to compound this catastrophe by using their wealth to strongarm a lesser-known black artist in court into giving up something that belonged to her first.
God, I can’t even imagine how insufferable the thinkpieces about that would be. Please, I beg them, back off and either revert to Lady Antebellum or come up with something else. “Lady Privilege,” maybe? “Lady Redneck But Sorry About It”?
Robert George suggests “Lady Day,” which rhymes with “Lady A” and has a pleasant sound. Surely no black artist has ever used that name before.